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General Motors plant director Marcos Purty uses his global experiences to lead

Marcos Purty began his new role at General Motors as executive director of global manufacturing strategy and planning in Jan. 2020. Previously, he served as executive director for GM’s Lansing Delta Township (LDT) assembly plant, which employs over 2,500 workers who produce the Buick and Chevrolet crossovers.

Purty holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Florida A&M University and an executive MBA from the University of Southern California. Throughout his career, he’s held positions in a variety of manufacturing operations and engineering areas as well as sales and marketing, with increasing responsibility within the U.S. and international assignments in Canada, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Purty was recently honored at the 2020 BEYA STEM Conference for “Career Achievement in Industry.” He was presented this prestigious award by Gerald Johnson, the executive vice president of global manufacturing and the highest-ranking African American male at GM.

Rolling out spoke with Purty about being honored, how mentorship played a role in his success and the helpful, priceless advice he gives to others on what to do when they’re looking to get promoted.

How does it feel to be an honoree at this year’s BEYA Conference?

It’s very humbling. To be honored is absolutely exciting. To look back on things you’ve done and to kind of cement that you’re doing all the right things, feels really good.

What do your daily responsibilities entail?

We have a great organization. Every area has a leader. So, my number one thing is really focusing on the safety and the well-being of the employees and the facility — not only day-to-day — but long-term. The other thing is people. Eighty percent of my role is people-related, and looking for the things [our] workplace [provides] for our people: making sure they’re engaged, making sure they’re working safely, and looking for their input on how we make the business better.

Drawing from your experience working in global environments, what’s one indispensable lesson you’ve learned?

People are people. No matter what culture you’re in, there’s normally a couple of things we all have in common. It doesn’t matter your race, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. People have faith, and people have family. One of the things I’ve observed as I’ve moved through different parts of the world, is that people come to work to provide for their families.

How did mentorship play into your career?

It was huge. There are your formal mentors and mostly informal mentors. When I say informal mentors, sometimes people didn’t know they were mentoring me. I looked at how they would act in the business. And it’s not always your leader, it’s people that work for you. The informal piece is probably the biggest part that I’ve gained in watching people and learning from others, and seeing where I could become better based on that.

What advice would you suggest to people who are looking to get promoted?

Don’t look to get promoted. If you’re looking to move to the next level, do the things that you should do to get there: communicate to your leadership your desire to grow within the organization, learn what it takes to be at the next level, and then ask yourself if you’re doing those things.